I arrived in Casablanca, feeling unbelievably terrible but managed to exchange money and find the train to take into the city. When I disembarked I was both confused and befuddled. My shivers offered a slight distraction from the throbbing pains that flooded my entire being. I wandered around the station for a few minutes trying to gather a sense of direction and balance. The anxiety of the moment seemed overwhelming and I forgot my conviction of sticking to public transportation. I hopped in the first taxi I saw and simply gave him the address of my hotel.
Moments later I regretted that decision as he honked at every other cab and put his fingers to his lips with a gesture that implied “Boy, do I have a sucker as my fare; she didn’t ask about the meter, the cost, rien (nothing).”I paid more for that ride than I did for the round-trip train ticket.
Upon arrival at the hotel reception desk I asked for a map and directions to a Doctor. Unfortunately it was somewhere around noon and most of the city was closed for a few hours. I bravely set forth and think I saw the old medina, some parks and some buildings. I was in a fog and had to concentrate on not getting run over as I walked across the streets. Traffic was not nearly as difficult as my wandering mind.
Finally I found a pharmacy, described my symptoms with sign language and traveler’s French and gratefully accepted whatever the pills were he dispensed. Practically crawling back to the hotel I attempted a shower and a nap. Since I did not have the strength to turn on the faucet, I crawled into bed fully clad with all the clean clothes in my suitcase, the blankets from both beds, and when I was still shivering I attempted to get the curtains down as well. I could not warm up. For the first time in years I was hot flash free for 48 hours.
Years later, I returned to Morocco, this time using Marrakesh as the starting point for a journey that would take me through the Atlas Mountains out to the Sahara. It was a well-traveled route and one that should be so. Incredible vistas everywhere. The highlight was to be the mini camel caravan into the dunes to eat dinner and sleep in a “true nomad bivouac”.
Unfortunately, before leaving I ate a voracious lunch of fresh vegetables, cheese and zaalouk, an incredibly tasty combination of eggplant and tomatoes. I knew better.
After stuffing my small overnight bag into the saddle of the beast I think they called Whiskey, my stomach started gurgling and cramping. It is not an easy gait on the back of a camel and thus with each stride I was offending it with my smell.
It was off-season with reduced rates so I was not surprised that there were no toilets, not even out-houses. But that didn’t stop me from wishing. When I could wait no longer I ran behind the closest dune. Somehow I managed to appear in the dinner tent attempting to enjoy the lovely tanjine and musical talents of the cook.
That night when the candles burnt down allowing total darkness and frigid temperatures to envelope the flowing blankets, I was hoping to pass out; but instead I had to crawl to the perimeter of the compound too many times to count.
I was depleted, cold and elated to see the sunrise that next morning. The ride back was made more pleasant by the promise of a warm shower.